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Analysis: Adult-Use Marijuana Sales Yield Over $10 Billion in New Tax Revenue

Washington, DC: State-authorized sales of retail marijuana products have yielded more than $10 billion in new tax revenue, according to an analysis compiled by the Marijuana Policy Project.

"Legalizing cannabis for adults has been a wise investment," authors of the report concluded. "Since 2014 when sales began in Colorado and Washington, legalization policies have provided states a new revenue stream to bolster budgets and fund important services and programs. As of December 2021, states reported a combined total of $10.4 billion in tax revenue from legal, adult-use cannabis sales. In addition to revenue generated for statewide budgets, cities and towns have also generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in new revenue from local adult-use cannabis taxes."

These revenues have been used to fund various state-specific projects, MPP's analysis reported. In Colorado, for instance, over $470 million in cannabis-specific tax revenue has been applied toward public schools. In Washington, some $600 million in revenue has been directed toward public health initiatives, including a fund that provides health insurance to low-income families. In California, over $100 million in revenue has been provided to community investment programs and local nonprofit groups.

In every state permitting adult-use sales, marijuana tax revenues have grown year-over-year.

Full text of the report, "Cannabis Tax Revenue in States that Regulate Cannabis for Adult Use," is available online.


Survey: Many Health Care Professionals Possess a "Poor" Understanding of Cannabis Use for Medical Purposes

Portland, OR: A significant percentage of health care practitioners possess only limited knowledge about the use and efficacy of medical cannabis, according to survey data published in the Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.

A team of investigators affiliated with the Oregon Health & Science University surveyed 178 health care professionals (physicians, registered nurses, and nurse practitioners) attending a Continuing Medical Education program on the clinical uses of cannabis. Nearly all of the health professionals surveyed were licensed to practice in either California, Oregon, or Washington – three jurisdictions where medical cannabis access has been legally available for more than two decades.

Researchers reported: "This study found that HCPs' [health care professionals] knowledge about the medical risks and benefits of clinical cannabis, although similar among professions, is generally poor and has specific important gaps. Health care professionals scored an average of only 63.2 percent on direct knowledge tests about clinical cannabis, with no significant differences among professions. Attendees scored highest on questions about laws and regulations (85.7 percent). Mean scores for questions related to all other topics, including risks and harms, pharmacology, pain, multiple sclerosis spasticity, and seizures, were all below 70 percent, equivalent to a C grade."

They added, "Despite more than 95 percent of respondents practicing in states (Oregon, Washington, or California) where clinical cannabis had been legal for more than 20 years and recreational cannabis had been legal for at least two years, their knowledge about clinical cannabis was poor. This supports that wide and prolonged availability of cannabis is not sufficient to accomplish provider knowledge and that more education is needed."

Authors concluded, "The findings of this study support that, despite a growing evidence base, and even after many years of legalization, HCPs including APRNs [advance practice registered nurses] have substantial gaps in their knowledge of the potential risks and benefits associated with the use of cannabis for medical purposes."

The study's conclusions are consistent with those of prior surveys of health care professionals in which most doctors and nurses acknowledge that they are insufficiently trained in issues related to the use of cannabis. Separate survey data published in 2020 also reported that fewer than one-in-five patients believe that their primary care providers are sufficiently knowledgeable about cannabis-specific health-related issues.

Full text of the study, "Cannabis for medical purposes: A cross-sectional analysis of health care professionals' knowledge," appears in the Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.


Analysis: Frequent Cannabis Use Associated with Lower Incidences of Diabetes Among Women

College Station, TX: Women who frequently consume cannabis are less likely to be diagnosed with diabetes mellitus, according to data published in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.

Researchers at Texas A&M University assessed the relationship between cannabis use and diabetes in a nationally representative sample of over 15,000 adults.

They reported that women who were frequent cannabis consumers were less than half as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes as compared to female non-users. No differences were observed among women who only consumed cannabis occasionally.

Researchers did not identify a similar inverse relationship among males. They concluded, "Further studies are needed to explore the sex-based heterogeneity-and individual and contextual factors responsible-in the association between cannabis use and diabetes mellitus."

Several previous studies have identified a correlation between frequent cannabis use and lower odds of adult-onset diabetes, while clinical trial data has shown that the administration of THCV is associated with improved glycemic control in type 2 diabetics.

Full text of the study, "Sex differences in the association between cannabis use and diabetes mellitus among US adults: The National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey, 2013-2018," appears in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.


Study: Labeling of Commercially Available CBD Products Often Inaccurate

Madison, WI: Commercially available CBD-infused products typically contain percentages of cannabidiol that differ significantly from the information provided on their labels, according to data published in the journal Epilepsy & Behavior.

A team of investigators affiliated with the University of Wisconsin, School of Pharmacy performed laboratory analyses on a variety of commercially available CBD products, including infused oils, beverages, and edibles.

Consistent with numerous other analyses of unregulated, commercially available CBD-branded products, investigators reported that the percentage of CBD available in many of the products tested "varies largely from their label claims." CBD-infused beverage products were most likely to contain CBD percentages that differed from their labels.

More than three years following the passage of federal legislation legalizing hemp production, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to promulgate rules regulating the marketing and sale of commercial products containing hemp-derived CBD. Speaking in October at the National Industrial Hemp Business Summit in Washington, DC, FDA representative Gail Sipes said that the agency cannot move forward with regulations without more data on the safety of CBD products. At that time, she reiterated the agency's position that companies that market CBD-infused products as either food products or as dietary supplements are violating the Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics Act.

In a report provided by the FDA to Congress in 2020, the agency said that regulating over-the-counter CBD products presents a unique challenge because the substance is already available as a FDA-approved medicine (Epidiolex).

NORML and other groups have consistently urged the FDA to provide regulatory guidelines overseeing the production, testing, labeling, and marketing of hemp-derived CBD products.

Full text of the study, "Analysis of cannabidiol (CBD) and THC in nonprescription consumer products: Implications for patients and practitioners," appears inEpilepsy & Behavior.

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Analysis: Public Interest in Delta-8 Products Rising in States Where Cannabis Remains Criminalized

San Diego, CA: The popularity of unregulated products containing delta-8 THC is far greater in states where cannabis is illegal than it is in jurisdictions where it has been legalized, according to an analysis published in The International Journal of Drug Policy.

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego analyzed Internet users' interest in delta-8 THC products in all 50 states. They found that online searches for delta-8 THC products grew significantly in the years 2019 and 2020 and that public interest "was particularly high in US states that restricted delta-9 THC use."

Although delta-8 THC occurs organically in the cannabis plant, it is only produced in nominal quantities. By contrast, the elevated quantities of delta-8 THC found in grey market products are the result of a chemical synthesis during which manufacturers convert hemp-derived CBD to delta-8 THC. Manufacturers engaged in synthesizing delta-8 THC are not regulated and often use potentially dangerous household products to facilitate this process. Lab analyses of unregulated delta-8 products have consistently found them to contain lower levels of the compound than advertised on the products' labels. Some products have also been found to possess heavy metal contaminants and unlabeled cutting agents.

In October, NORML issued a report on delta-8 THC and other novel, synthetically derived cannabinoids that cautioned consumers to avoid these unregulated products because they are untested and may contain impurities.

According to survey results published in The Journal of Cannabis Research, consumers of delta-8 THC products typically use them for relaxation and pain management. Consumers often report the effects of these products to be less potent than those of whole-plant cannabis and of a shorter duration.

Full text of the study, "Public interest in delta-8 THC increased in US states that restricted delta-9 THC use," appears in The International Journal of Drug Policy. Full text of the study - "Delta-8-THC: Delta-9-THC's nicer younger sibling?" - appears in The Journal of Cannabis Research.

Review: Minor Cannabinoids Acknowledged to Possess Therapeutic Properties

Columbia, South Carolina: Numerous minor cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant possess therapeutic properties that may hold clinical significance, according to a review paper published in the journal Frontiers of Pharmacology.

A team of US investigators affiliated with the University of South Carolina and Doane University in Nebraska summarized data on the potential therapeutic applications of a number of secondary cannabinoids, including CBN (cannabinol), CBC (cannabichromine), cannabigerol (CBG), and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV). Most of the research available on these compounds has thus far been limited to preclinical studies.

Specifically, authors highlighted the analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties of various ancillary cannabinoids, including CBG, CBC, THCV, and CBN.

They acknowledged that CBN also "shows promise as an antibacterial agent and [as] an appetite stimulant," but cautioned that it has shown inconsistent results as a sleep aid.

Several of these minor cannabinoids, such as CBG and CBC, also possess anti-cancer properties, while THCV "regulates blood glucose levels, suggesting it might be useful in weight reduction and treating diabetes." THCV has also demonstrated anti-epileptic and neuroprotective properties.

Another cannabinoid highlighted by the authors, cannabidivarin (CBDV) possesses anti-seizure activity and may possess therapeutic utility in the treatment of autism, muscular dystrophy, and as an anti-emetic agent.

A number of these minor cannabinoids have "also shown promise in the treatment of skin disorders," investigators reported.

Authors also highlighted the promise of various cannabinoid acids (e.g., CBDA, CBGA, and THCA). Specifically, they acknowledged that CBGA "may play a role in controlling diabetes mellitus and preventing the cardiovascular complications that can accompany Type 2 diabetes," whereas THCA has been shown to mitigate liver fibrosis in animals.

"Minor cannabinoids and their chemical homologs offer the potential medicinal benefits of D9-THC without adverse effects," authors concluded. "Future studies will need to evaluate the risk versus benefit of these and other minor cannabinoids when compared to D9-THC and traditional analgesic drugs."

Full text of the study, "Minor cannabinoids: Biosynthesis, molecular pharmacology and potential therapeutic uses," appears inFrontiers of Pharmacology.

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Analysis: Changes in Marijuana Laws Not Associated with Increased Traffic Fatalities

Lakeland, FL: Neither the enactment of medical cannabis access laws or adult-use legalization laws are associated with any significant upticks in motor vehicle traffic fatalities, according to data published in the journal The Review of Regional Studies.

A team of researchers affiliated with Florida Polytechnic University examined the relationship between traffic fatalities and statewide policies legalizing marijuana access over a 35-year period (1985 to 2019).

Researchers identified no significant changes in trends in fatal motor vehicle crashes following the enactment of adult-use marijuana laws, and they reported a decrease in fatal traffic accidents following the passage of statewide medical cannabis access laws.

Authors wrote: "We find lower state traffic fatalities following the implementation of MMLs [medical marijuana laws], consistent with earlier work. This is true whether we employ a simple MML indicator or a continuous indicator of the permissiveness of state medical marijuana laws. ... Controlling for prior MMLs, we find no evidence of a statistically significant association between RMLs [recreational marijuana laws] and traffic fatalities. Further, we find no evidence of an association between traffic fatalities and cross-border recreational legalization."

They concluded, "Liberalization [of marijuana policies] may eventually be shown to lead to more fatalities, at least under some sets of circumstances, as more and different states legalize recreational use and more data accrues. However, as of 2019, we find liberalization has been associated with lower traffic fatalities, not higher."

Previous analyses have consistently reported no changes in traffic safety following the enactment of medical cannabis liberalization laws. Data trends have been less consistent following the imposition of statewide adult-use legalization laws, with some jurisdictions showing minor changes over time and others showing no changes.

Full text of the study, "State marijuana laws and traffic fatalities," appears in The Review of Regional Studies.

Study: Use of CBD-Dominant Cannabis Associated with Reduced Prescription Drug Use Among Some Older Adults

Toronto, Canada: Between 20 percent and one-third of older adults who consume CBD-dominant cannabis products for medical purposes reduce their use of prescription opioids and benzodiazepines, according to data published in the journal Drugs & Aging.

A team of Canadian researchers assessed marijuana consumption patterns in a cohort of nearly 10,000 patients ages 65 and older over a six-year period. All of the study's subjects possessed a valid prescription from a Canadian doctor to access medical cannabis products at a licensed retail dispensary. Medical marijuana products have been legal in Canada by prescription for several decades.

Subjects consumed either herbal cannabis flowers or oil extracts - with the majority of participants consuming extracts. Most subjects consumed products containing high percentages of CBD.

Consistent with prior studies, a portion of patients reported reducing their use of prescription medications following their initiation of cannabis products. Specifically, researchers reported that 36 percent of respondents decreased their use of opioids, while 20 percent reduced their use of benzodiazepines.

Also similar to other studies, subjects frequently reported that the use of medical cannabis products was associated with reduced pain, better sleep, and improvements in mood.

In recent years, self-reported marijuana use by seniors has increased dramatically in both the United States and Canada. Several surveys report that seniors' use of cannabis products is associated with improvements in their overall quality of life.

Full text of the study, "Medical use among older adults in Canada: Self-reported data on types and amount used, and perceived effects," appears in Drugs & Aging.

Pennsylvania: Supreme Court Rules Marijuana Odor Is Insufficient Grounds for a Warrantless Search

Harrisburg, PA: Police officers may not engage in the warrantless search of a vehicle based solely upon the smell of marijuana, according to a determination by the state's Supreme Court.

The majority ruled that law enforcement cannot infer criminal activity from the odor of marijuana because medical cannabis can legally be possessed by authorized patients under state law.

"We conclude that the MMA [Medical Marijuana Act] makes abundantly clear that marijuana no longer is per se illegal in this Commonwealth," the majority opined. "Accordingly, the enactment of the MMA eliminated this main pillar supporting the 'plain smell' doctrine as applied to the possession or use of marijuana. Indeed, so long as a patient complies with the dictates of the MMA, that person can legally possess and consume various forms of medical marijuana, including the plant itself. Accordingly, the smell of marijuana alone cannot create probable cause to justify a search under the state and federal constitutions."

The court concluded, "We hold that the odor of marijuana alone does not amount to probable cause to conduct a warrantless search of a vehicle but, rather, may be considered as a factor in examining the totality of the circumstances."

A growing number of states, including Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia, similarly limit police from conducting either warrantless searches or arrests based solely upon the odor of cannabis.

The case is Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Barr.

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